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Lawmakers slam FTC over portals’ dominance

A group of lawmakers said Thursday that the antitrust regulator has been negligent in curbing the oligopoly of the nation’s two major Internet portal giants.

During a parliamentary audit on the Fair Trade Commission, some members of the National Policy Committee of the National Assembly claimed that Naver and Daum Kakao have expanded their business operations recklessly by exploiting their market dominance.

“Naver has captured 70 percent of the online information market. It is not a portal but a business operator circulating information. (As a result), venture firms are confined in the Naver Kingdom,” said Rep. Kim Sang-min of the ruling Saenuri Party.

“The FTC chairman has yet to take any (disciplinary) action against Naver despite reigning over (small businesses),” he added.

Rep. Lee Jae-young from the same party criticized the FTC for not regulating Naver over its market dominance, compared to ordinary cases in which the authority generally issues sanctions on irregular practices of oligopolistic conglomerates.

Asked about the business scale of Naver and Daum Kakao from the two lawmakers, FTC chairman Jeong Jae-chan said he shared the view that the two portal operators are conglomerates.

Citing their huge market capitalization, the lawmakers said the regulator should hurry to bolster its monitoring of their subsidiaries and affiliates.

During the Strategy & Finance Committee’s audit on the Bank of Korea, an opposition lawmaker pointed out the incumbent central bank chief’s inconsistent stance on monetary policies.

Rep. Park Beom-kye of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy said that BOK Gov. Lee Ju-yeol ― who was appointed to the post in April 2014 ― had been skeptical about interest rate cuts before former lawmaker Choi Kyung-hwan took office as finance minister.

Park said Lee had clarified that “a rate cut could aggravate the problem of the nation’s mounting household debt, rather than have the effect of reinvigorating the private consumption.” 

But Lee shifted his position after Choi assumed office in July 2014 and reportedly pressed for monetary-easing with the minister’s initiatives to vitalize the property market, Park said.

By Kim Yon-se (
catch table
Korea Herald daum